Time Under Tension & Stretch Training | Plateau Breakers

Written by Laura Ciotte

Time Under Tension

Time under tension is a commonly used tern in the strength and conditioning and body building fields. To simplify, TUT refers to how long the muscle is under strain during a set. A typical set of 10 repetitions for an average lifter will take anywhere from 15-25 seconds depending on lifting velocity.

Duration of stimulus and tension are key factors in determining muscle growth. By putting the muscle under longer bouts of strain, you can cause extensive muscle breakdown leading to sleeve-busting muscles. By pairing a static hold with a compound movement for the same muscle you have an effective way of increasing time under tension and breaking your plateau.

Start with your ten rep max of an exercise and superset it with a static hold of the hardest part of the movement to failure. Repeat this for three supersets, or four for the larger muscle groups, with 60 seconds rest in between sets. Eight reps is more realistic for the second and third sets as the fatigue begins to set in. You will need someone to spot you.

time under tension

Major Muscle Groups

#1 Quadriceps:

Squat (8-12 reps)

Squat hold (at the lowest position) to failure


#2 Hamstrings:

Deadlift (8-12 reps)

Hamstring machine hold (bent knees) to failure


#3 Chest and triceps:

Bench Press (8-12 reps)

Hold bottom position of push up to failure


#4 Back and Biceps:

Lat pulldown (8-12 reps)

Hold top position of chin up to failure


#5 Shoulders:

Military press (8-12 reps)

Hold top position of the lateral raise to failure


#6 Core:

Cable crunch (8-12 reps)

Plank to failure

time under tension

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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